A series of community forums are being launched by the Cowlitz Project, during which time information will be shared regarding the development of the $510 million casino resort project of the Cowlitz Tribe. Additional topics include plans to build a $15 million water reclamation plant and a $32 million project to deal with added traffic to the Exit 16 interchange.

An overview and project update of the water reclamation plant will be provided during the first forum, which will take place at the La Center Community Center on June 30. Two sessions will be held, one from 5 to 6:30pm and the other from 7 to 8:30pm, according to The Columbian. Presenters at the community forum include Cowlitz Project general manager and president, Kara Fox-LaRose; Cowlitz Indian Tribe chairman, William Iyall; and the lead engineer for the water reclamation system, Mike Ollivant. Times and dates of future forums regarding the interchange and the casino are to be announced later.

Opposition to the Cowlitz Tribe’s casino resort project in Northwest Clark County in Washington is coming from various fronts. The main opposition faced by the tribe is from the owners and operators of La Center’s cardrooms who don’t want the added competition. The most recent dispute has to do with storm water disposal for the casino resort, specifically the facility the tribe plans to build to treat wastewater from the casino. The controversy is due to the fact that injection wells will be drilled into the ground for the water reclamation project. Those drill sites are located right above the Troutdale Aquifer, which happens to supply the water for Clark County.

Stop work orders have been posted by Clark County on the project. The tribe, however, says that the county doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Cowlitz Reservation, so the orders have been ignored. The Cowlitz Tribe was hoping to connect to the city’s sewage treatment plant, but due to the location of the casino, just past La Center’s urban growth boundary, county regulations prohibit it.

While the tribe began construction on the casino resort in January, an ongoing lawsuit between it and opponents including neighboring Oregon’s Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, among others, are doing their best to try and halt the construction and see that it never opens in the spring of 2017 as planned. The court battle revolves around the application of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and when the Cowlitz tribe was federally recognized and whether the 152 acres of land should have been taken into trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the first place.

Plans for the facility include a 360,000 square foot entertainment and meeting facility which will feature 2,500 slot machines, 80 table games, and more than 15 bars, restaurants, and retail.

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